Europe

The Aeolian Islands: 38 Stunning Photos That Will Inspire You to Go

The Aeolian archipelago off the coast of Sicily is as close to paradise as I think I’ll ever come. My best Aeolian Islands photography will inspire you to book a ferry ticket ASAP!

This summer, I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a leisurely week island hopping in Italy’s Aeolian archipelago. I have so much to tell you about this hidden paradise in Sicily – and I have about a thousand photos I’m dying to share.

Hosted by my aunt, herself a professional photographer, and my Sicilian-born uncle, Ross and I had an absolute ball in the Aeolian Islands.

I just published a detailed travel guide that covers all seven islands: Salina, Vulcano, Stromboli, Panarea, Lipari, Filicudi and Alicudi. This collection Aeolian Islands photography includes all the photos that didn’t quite make the cut!

A man in a blue jumper points his camera with a long lens.

Capturing the Aeolian Islands’ wild beauty

The Isole Eolie are a set of seven volcanic islands that sprout from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Each one has its own unique geology and habitat; all feel utterly prehistoric.

Lush volcanic mounds, white villages settled in extinct craters, incredible rock formations. The shapes and colours of this otherworldly landscape, a rainbow of sulfur and obsidian, almost defy description. Amoungst the black sand beaches and jungle thickets, ivory and pastel houses blend in seamlessly.

Each island affords views of its next-door neighbour, framed by cactus plants and jagged rock cliffs. The chain of seven silhouetted at dusk against the vibrant Tyrrhenian Sea is a sight for sore eyes.

View of a green landscape, half a volcano, and the sea. A small village sits in the middle of the crater.
Dusk over the sea, with an island in the background and a single sail boat.
Aerial shot of a beach with three colourful canoes on the shore.
A modern white house nestled beneath a green mountain.
A white house with a view of the sea and several boats.
An old town on top of a fortress wall viewed from the distance with greenery in the foreground.

Doorway to heaven

From Taiwan to Oman and Azerbaijan, there’s nothing I love more than a good door. Walking the narrow streets of the Aeolian villages, it was always the doorways and window dressings that captured my imagination and pulled my lens away from whatever else was in view.

Some homes feature opulent balconies; others use simple colours and shapes. Time-worn hardware, crumbling paint and overgrown plants are always my favourite. Each doorway is a little statement about the person who lives there.

A woman sits outside a small yellow and peach building with a green door.

The joy of Sicilian cooking

One of the best things about travelling in the Aeolian Islands is, of course, the food.

Capers, fennel and fig trees grow wild in this part of Sicily, nourished by the islands’ rich volcanic soil. On Salina, the green island, row upon row of vineyards line the valley beneath the twin craters.

Check out my Aeolian Islands travel guide for more food & activity recommendations.

Island cafes serve up the best gelato on planet Earth (that’s a fact), refreshing fruit granitas and Italian espresso. Local produce including organic goats cheese and fresh seafood abounds.

A slice of cake and two cups of coffee sitting on a tiled cafe table.
A dessert on a square plate.

Maiolica pottery

Like the rest of Sicily, the Aeolian Islands are an ethnic melting pot. Maiolica pottery traditions spring from Arabic and North African influences.

From hand-pressed tiles, gloriously imperfect as they are, to extravagant Moorish heads, Teste di Moro, ceramic traditions are one of the most visible and fascinating aspects of Aeolian culture. Almost every island has workshops and studios you can visit, and gift shops brimming with sweet take-me-homes.

Colourful square tiles.
Colourful ceramics on a white shelf.
A shopfront with a sign reading 'Made in Lipari'.

Small towns

Communities on the Aeolian Islands are characterised by beautiful old churches, public plazas and a main street lined with trattorias.

In many towns, streets are far too narrow for cars. Locals buzz around in comically small ape trucks (ape is Italian for ‘bee’) or in the case of Filicudi, the smallest island, on mules.

Beautiful hand-pressed floor tiles.
A curved stone street lined with pastel-coloured buildings and green pot plants.
The lemon-coloured interior of a small church.
A man in a small green truck.

Aeolian Islands photography: Pin it!

2 Comments Add New Comment

  1. Maya says:

    Emily, we’ve already talked about it…Please invite me to your next family vacation 😉 Gorgeous as always and right up my alley! Thanks for the inspiration!

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